April 02, 2014 - Walter Fraser American Legion Post 108 in Oxford Township received a long-overdue and much-appreciated makeover this week thanks to the fine folks at The Home Depot Foundation.
American Legion Post 108 presented Home Depot representatives with plaques to show its appreciation for the grant and manpower. Pictured from left: Ladies Auxiliary Unit 108 executive board member Bonnie Wood, Post 108 Sr. Vice Commander Jerry Daniels, Home Depot representatives Erik Bannister, Alana Hart and Dorthanal Leonard, Post 108 Trustee Dick Wood and Post 108 Museum Curator Jim Parkhurst. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
The local veterans organization was awarded a $5,600 grant from the foundation, which was quickly turned into a whole load of new fixtures, materials and supplies to spruce up its building at 130 E. Drahner Rd.
Thanks to the grant, the post received new lighting, ceiling fans, flooring in the bar area, a new stainless-steel dishwasher, a new bar sink/faucet, a new utility sink, a fresh coat of paint in the kitchen, FRP wall panels in the kitchen and restrooms, and chair rail moulding around the dining room.
"This is such a great thing," said Post 108 Senior Vice Commander Jerry Daniels. "We are so thrilled about this. I can't say thank you enough. This was so unexpected."
"I don't recall anybody ever doing anything of this volume or magnitude for the post since it was founded in 1919," said Jim Parkhurst, past commander and curator of the post's military history museum.
"This is one of our values. This is what we live – giving back and building community relationships," explained Alana Hart, who works as a customer order specialist at the Home Depot in Orion Township. "It's what we believe in. It's in our blood. We feel that's an important part of not only the community, but who we are."
"This really honors those who have made our freedoms possible," said Dorthanal Leonard, district manager for Home Depot. "We'd like to thank them for allowing us to come out into the community and help. It's part of who we are – why we bleed orange every day."
Hart worked on the grant application with Post 108 Trustee Dick Wood and his wife Bonnie Wood, who's a member of Ladies Auxiliary Unit 108's executive board. The Woods are regular customers of the Orion Home Depot.
"They're really involved in the community and they came to me and said, 'We could use some help updating (the post),'" Hart said. "They just didn't have the ability. They needed the funds . . . We came here, walked (around the post) to see what we could do and figured out how much they needed."
"Everything we do is for the benefit of our veterans and as you can see, the work here needed to be done," Dick Wood said. "I can't say thank you enough (to Home Depot)."
In addition to material items, Post 108 also received the gift of manpower, which Hart described as "priceless."
All of the improvements were made by 50 Home Depot employees from 10 stores who took the day off work April 1 and volunteered their time. Some came from as far away as Detroit.
"Part of our core mission is to make sure we're out in the communities," Leonard said. "It starts in the stores with our associates really connecting with the communities and giving back."
"We've done projects all over, from the Lake Orion (American) Legion (Post) to the veterans memorial in Lake Orion," said Erik Bannister, store manager of the Orion Home Depot. "It's just a great honor to be here and support these folks."
The Home Depot employees even took time to do some "major deep cleaning" at Post 108 by scrubbing, scraping, washing and shining every object and surface they could get their hands on.
"We cleaned a ton of stuff," said Hart, who's the Team Depot captain, meaning she's in charge of organizing the volunteers.
Being a receiver instead of the giver was a whole new experience for Post 108, according to Parkhurst.
"It's kind of a neat thing that somebody's helping us," he explained. "We're always the one giving to the community and we struggle at times to make ends meet. We struggle to repair things (at the post) because we try to give back everything we can."
Because of this grant, Daniels and Parkhurst said Post 108 will be able to save the money it would have spent on renovations and use those funds to benefit the community by helping veterans, families in need, students, parks and local charitable groups.
"It's a generous post," Parkhurst said.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.